The Himalayan Kingdom of Ladakh is one of the few places on Earth which is still virtually untouched and unexplored. It’s one of India’s best kept secrets that we can’t help but let you in on. Enjoy the calm serenity of the fresh mountain air, incredible views, and rich Buddhist heritage on a voyage of discovery through this majestic land. This 10-night experience will take you from the hive of activity commonly known as Delhi to an area which couldn’t be a more perfect contrast, the capital of Ladakh, Leh. We are the experts when it comes to India and our experts will enrich every journey with our insight, exclusive access and knowledge. This trip through Ladakh lets you escape to the unknown villages of the Indus Valley, tour the city of Leh with local royalty, meet local monks, star-gaze to your hearts content and even catch a game of Ladakhi Polo – an escapists dream.
Up, up and away
Your Indian adventure gets off to a flying start, quite literally. After a flight into the bustling city of Delhi, you’ll rest up overnight at a hotel before an early flight out again the next morning. From the metropolis of Delhi, you will take to the skies and head north to Leh, the capital of refreshing Ladakh.Read more...
Fit for a King
Just outside of Leh, nestled at the foot of the majestic Stok Kangri mountain, lies the charming village of Stok. As the gateway to the Himalayas, it goes without saying that Ladakh is high – and Stok is no exception. At 3650m, we recommend you take it easy on your first day whilst you acclimatize to the altitude, and what better place to do that than at a Palace? You’ll spend the next two nights at Stok Palace, home to the Namgyal dynasty and generously opened to the public in the 1980s by the Dalai Lama. The Palace also houses a Museum showcasing royal artefacts and the heritage of Ladakh, making it the perfect place to get acquainted with this fascinating region.
The following morning, you will be met by your guide who will take you on a walking tour of Stok. As you walk around, admire the unspoilt architecture, golden apricot orchards and rolling fields of barley of this peaceful village. For a tour like no other, we can even arrange for the King of Leh himself to show you around Stok and the Palace. How’s that for the royal treatment? Take the afternoon easy and then in the evening, you can visit a nearby nunnery to observe the soothing evening prayers and stargaze at Shanti Stupa before returning for dinner back at the Palace.
High in the hills
In the morning, you’ll make your way through the Indus Valley to the mountain village of Nimoo. Get your bearings with a gentle stroll around the village, as you watch the yaks grazing on the sumptuous high pastures and bear witness to undisturbed local village life that still plays host to ancient traditions. After lunch, you’ll pay a visit to the renowned Alchi Monastery – the only monastery in Ladakh to be built on flat ground, an astonishing feat in this incredibly mountainous region. You’ll spend tonight at Shakti Nimoo Village House where you can participate in an evening cookery class and learn to cook like a local. These traditional village houses, known as shaktis, will be your havens over the course of the week as you enjoy an authentic North Indian experience in the Himalayas that, even given the remote location, refuses to lack comfort or luxury. Relax in complete serenity as you take in the beautiful scenery of an area affectionately referred to as ‘Little Tibet’.
Tomorrow, wind your way through Zanskar Canyon to the village of Chilling- the ancient home to metal smiths who have supplied Leh with metal works for centuries. Get to know the village before embarking on a rafting adventure on the confluence of the Indus and Zanskar rivers. In the afternoon, return to Shakti Nimoo and relax on the patio – perhaps with a book from the quaint library, before a delicious dinner under the stars.
Another day, another village. Today it’s Igoo. On your way, you’ll stop off at Leh to explore its bustling market, which is famous for its local apricot oils and creams. After you’ve fully stocked up on souvenirs, refuel in a local cafe with a glass of the local delicacy – fresh Leh berry and apricot juice, before continuing on to Igoo. Your village house in Igoo is one of the most remote Shaktis and dates back almost 300 years. The house is very well respected, as a former home to an elite family in the village, with a former prayer room now converted into a bedroom displaying ancient artefacts. The village itself is renowned for its slow pace of life, not surprising given Igoo is perched at the dizzying height of 3900m above sea level. Trust us, you’re in for some incredible views.
The next morning, depending on how energetic you’re feeling, you’ll either hike or drive your way to Khapsang meditation centre. This retreat is home to a small monastery temple with several monks making their way to this secluded and peaceful environment before going into long years of meditation. From here, hike on to Chemrey Monastery and marvel at the one storey high statue of Padmasambhava and the 29 volume scripture written in silver and gold letters. On your way, you’ll stop for a picnic lunch, over which you can take in the jaw dropping mountain views.
Tomorrow, it’s farewell to Igoo as you drive to the village of Ranbirpur, stopping on the way at Hemis Monastery, the largest monastery in Ladakh. Spend the afternoon at leisure at the luxurious Shakti River House, perhaps crossing over the river to the neighbouring village of Stakna and discovering the ‘tiger nose’ monastery, named after the shape of the land. In the evening, peer into your future with a visit to the local oracle, who is also believed to have special healing powers.
Set your alarm nice and early for your final day in Ladakh and head to Thiksey Monastery in time for sunrise. You may think you’ve seen enough monasteries by now, but trust us; this is a unique experience that you won’t want to miss. After the mesmerising spectacle of the monks going through their early morning prayers, pay a visit to the ‘Amchi’ medicine man and learn about Ladakhi religion, before enjoying a delicious picnic breakfast with views over the monastery.
Your village hopping ends in Shey where you can spend the day hiking or exploring the village. In the evening, return to the River House and gather round as the head monk recounts tales of the Ladakhi way of life, before you raise a toast over your farewell dinner. The next morning, it’s back to Delhi where you can spend the day rejuvenating at the luxurious The Lodhi hotel. Did someone say spa? Tomorrow, wave goodbye to this spellbinding country as you fly home with more stories and memories than a camera could hold.